You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for several days. I have been sick. While I haven’t been posting, God has still been talking with me. I’ve thought a lot about blessings. Although I’ve had the flu, I have been blessed with a warm bed and heat in my house. I have a heater in my car that works well as I’ve made my way to work. I have a warm coat to wear from the car to work or the house. God has promised that He will provide for our needs if we trust in Him. He hasn’t promised to provide riches here on earth, but in Heaven where the rewards are eternal. These blessings (and many others) are not for my personal pleasure. I have been blessed in order to bless others. “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:8) This morning I read the following in a devotional “A Life God Rewards” by Bruce Wilkinson that I want to share with you, along with some of my thoughts and Scripture in the last paragraph.
Mr. Wilkinson tells the story of an offer he made to each person at a conference. His offer was to give a $100 bill to each person for walking around the outside of the room each time they passed the podium. He asked “If the deal were for real, how many in the group would keep walking for a long time?” He then asked, “And how many of you would be saying to yourself while you walked–even when you reached the point of exhaustion–‘Oh, man! This is such a sacrifice!’?”
The room quieted, and then he asked what his proposal might illustrate regarding the truth of eternal rewards. A woman said, “If God pays us so generously for what we do for Him, then it’s not a sacrifice, is it?” She hit the nail on the head. Yes, in this life God asks for our all–our attention, our loyalty, our effort, our time. But in exchange He guarantees to repay us personally, generously, and forever. “And every one that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.” (Matt. 19:29)
We often think of God as our Creator, protector, provider, and Savior. But God as employer? Paymaster? Sounds surprising, doesn’t it? Yet Jesus described the reward He gives as actual payment. The first word Jesus used for reward is found in the Sermon on the Mount. In Greek, it is mithos, meaning wages. “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.” (Luke 6:23) When we see Jesus, He will give us our wages–eternal life.
The second word Jesus used for reward in heaven is a compound word, apodidomai. Apo means back, and didomai means to give. Combined, apodidomai means to give back in return. “and you will be blessed…For you will [apodidomai] be repaid at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:14)
Jesus says that when you receive an apodidomai, you are getting back what someone owes you in return for something you gave them. Jesus has called you to serve in God’s kingdom because what you can only guess at, He knows…He knows eternity firsthand. He knows the full intended purpose of your unique life and circumstances. He know that He is storing up reward for you for every genuine work you do for Him–whether a small kindness to a stranger or your lifeblood in martyrdom. He knows that His plan to reward you–once you realize it in heaven–will make you leap for joy and will forever wipe away any memory of perceived sacrifice.
And He knows that your only regret before Him will be that you didn’t serve Him more…and longer…and more truly…and with greater, more joyful anticipation. Because Jesus came to earth to tell us what He knows about our future, the most important question you and I could ask about the day ahead is, How do I want to invest the next twelve hours to maximize the rewards Christ will give? “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (1 Thess. 3:12-13)
Don’t assume that the work we do for Him gets us to heaven. There is only one way. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6) He gives us eternal life by His grace and mercy. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) But for those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He calls us to work for His kingdom–not to GET to heaven but for further reward IN heaven. “For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done.” (Matt. 16:27)